This is a guest review by Al.
Downhill Domination is a very high speed downhill mountain bike racing game that will have players hurtling down ultra steep mountain tracks. Created by the company 'Incog' the team that brought us the Twisted Metal series that were so popular on most systems.
On first glance this game is like playing SSX snowboarding on a thawed out mountain, and on a bike. Speeding down mountain tracks at breakneck speeds, you get to play form a variety of 14 riders, some locked until completion of other levels, where you get to race as real life pro bikers. Unfortunately though, they don't look that much like real life racers, as, like SSX the graphics are very bright and cartoon like, not that much like the real life graphics that gamers are getting used to with the likes of Manhunt and Splinter Cell on the market. Hopefully Sony's next system will maximise what potential it has.
The characters all have there own personal attributes, the English rider has a football and so is stereotypically English. Different riders have different attributes. All players have a skater boy look to them and make it look obvious that this game is designed primarily for 12-18 year old skaters. Not that it cannot be enjoyed by others as well.
After choosing your selected 'dude' you get to select what equipment you want to race with, from what tyres you want to what frame and suspension you feel best for your character from a range of real bike parts.
There are plenty of courses, over 20 in fact and with a number of different routes to take you to the finish line you can redo levels over again looking at different obstacles that can get in your way. So you never get bored of looking at different scenery, Its also a good idea to not only look out for trees, piping, houses or rock faces that you can crash into whilst speeding down, but you also have to look for mountain goats and wild boars that have no aversion to jumping into your path and throwing you twenty feet in the air. There are so many obstacles that you sometimes forget to try out your arsenal of tricks and stunts that earn you extra points which turn into bonus prize money to add to your race placing prizes to buy your rider better equipment.
The race tracks are mostly on near vertical tracks that weave and wind all over the hills, through forestry to remote villages, This game really does test your reactions as out of nowhere can appear a tree that will throw you off your bike and into a bloody heap on the ground.
To help you get those much needed points and dollars are offensive bonuses, this doesn't mean swearing at your computer screen, Not unlike need for speed, if you tap your circle or square buttons then you can lash out at opponents to knock them off there bikes. They don't only punch the opponents, if power ups are collected you can also throw what look to be milk cartons at others with a type of tracker that locks onto opponents and you get to see them fall head over heels off a cliff face, if you run out of milk cartons, there's a baseball bat, and sometimes you can collect a power up that
lets you kick out your back wheel to take out your rivals.
With all this thrown in then you can forget the point of the game, (its to win by the way!) with attacks and tricks and placing, you can enjoy repeating the levels again and again as you never see the same piece of track twice.
But what the game does lack is any addictive qualities, you can sometimes complete 4 or 5 levels in 20 minutes, but then get stuck on the same level for 30 minutes. You don t really feel the need to stay on the game for prolonged periods of time. Once completing a level you don't feel the need to complete the next course. Some levels are 7 or 8 minutes long and then some are less than a minute long causing you to lose any momentum on the tracks as your never quite sure what pace you can complete it.
Also you may want to reconfigure the controls as it is quite difficult to maintain a fast pace by double clicking and holding the X button whist simultaneously trying to kick over a rival racer with the circle or square buttons.
Free ride is quite entertaining as you get to explore all the various tracks with other friends in multiplayer mode which can come in handy as you have a chance to find the best routes to get you to the finish line for when you play in the competition mode.